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Mesa Verde is a hidden civilization amongst the mesas of southwestern Colorado. These ruins were homes to the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians a thousand years ago before disappearing from the area. The remnants of this large and advanced civilization can still be accessed and enjoyed.
Contrary to popular believe, researchers do know what happened to this ill-fated society. Starvation drove them from the area south to where they merged with other settlements. The ruins at Mesa Verde are absolutely stunning and awe-inspiring. Cliff Palace (above) is the largest of the ancient settlements. Spruce Tree House (below) was constructed in the 1200s. Being afraid of heights, apparently, had no place in this culture. The villages were accessed by ladders from above.
Every space under the large overhang was utilized completely. The details that went into each dwelling are inspiring. Below you can see the tiny rocks that were placed in the mortar to add stability to each brick.
I’d planned to camp in Mesa Verde for two full days and three nights. According to their website, there are several good hiking trails in the park. We figured one day to check out the ruins and another day of hardcore hiking. Turns out while the ruins are amazing, the surrounding country isn’t as much. It’s mostly just grass, juniper, and scrub oak — not the red rock we were expecting. Plus a fire had destroyed much of the trees in the park.
If you go, plan on spending a full day seeing the ruins and the museum. The campground is a great place to recharge as it has showers, laundromat, and a small store. But head out the next morning to your next stop. Summer is a good time to visit the area. Although it’s more south, the mesas are high enough in elevation to stay cooler.
For a an outdoor adventure without ever having to get outside, check out the Lost Gorge Mystery series!